General Motors has announced its latest investment to continuously improve vehicle operating costs, and increase innovation in design. The automaker’s new, reduced-scale wind tunnel will help accelerate and fine tune designs for greater fuel efficiency in future vehicles.
“The combined capabilities of our new reduced-scale and full-scale wind tunnels allow us to reach industry-leading levels of aerodynamic refinement,” said Ken Morris, vice president, GM Global Product Integrity. “We view the new $30 million reduced scale wind tunnel as an investment towards a better, more energy-efficient future.”
The 35,000 square-foot reduced scale wind tunnel aerodynamically tests clay models up to 40-percent of the vehicle’s scale. The conveyor style rolling-road system can simulate a multitude of driving speeds up to 155 mph, and allows GM engineers to further reduce wind drag and create more aerodynamic designs.
Advanced 3D printing also allows the reduced scale wind tunnel to come to life, too. With 3D printing, scale sizes of essential vehicle parts, such as the engine block, suspension and more, can be analyzed to see how it reacts with wind. Thus, GM says even quieter vehicles are possible in the future.
The original full-scale wind tunnel will be upgraded next year with its own full-scale rolling road system and other improvements.